Travel Related

Do Airlines Want Us Points Enthusiasts (Gamers) Returning When It’s Safe to Fly Again?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


A frequent flyer and good friend of mine took a number of Delta SkyTeam partner AeroMexico fun mileage runs to start the year. He booked the tickets in 2019 when there was a good sale and racked up enough MQDs to re-qualify for 2021 Diamond Medallion status before the end of January of this year.

I doubt he would have pushed it so quickly if he knew Delta was simply going to give everyone 2021 status free based on the 2020 status (but that’s a topic for another post down the road).

Some would consider my friend a “gamer.” If following the rules Delta publishes in black and white is “gaming” then so be it – we are ALL gamers.

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300 (A330-323, to be exact), tail number N813NW, is seen at London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

I mean, if you choose to do anything to earn either Delta frequent flyer points, elite points or perks because Delta has told you they will give you these things if you do whatever action they want – is that not the point of the marketing program from the airline?

Anyway, back to life après COVID that has to happen one day (either this year, next year or the year after that). While I personally do not plan to set foot on a Delta jet for the rest of 2020 either with or without a mask on, one day I will want to fly again.

After all, I’ll have a large pile of MQMs saved up and rolling over into next year — but will need to again meet whatever MQD number Delta chooses to put in print for the 2022 Medallion qualifying year (to be earned in 2021).

But will Delta want me back? Are non-points people more valuable? Let’s take a look.

First off, Delta for years and years has said they do not care if a passenger spends cash or SkyMiles to pay for a ticket. That is, they count the revenue the same from either source (we may not agree with this but that is what the Delta CEO has told us).

The above is very telling. It means, no matter where we earn the Delta points – be it from credit cards or flying Delta or partners or any of the other many ways of earning them – Delta is happy when we spend them as they realize income and profit. They are happy when we book SkyMiles award tickets or use PWM (Pay With Miles) just so long as we use them. Heck, they are even happy when we spend them in their SkyMiles marketplace (don’t ever do this because the value is simply awful).

The point is us burning Skymiles is a win for Delta (again, their feelings on this, not mine)!

We also should keep in mind travel après COVID is going to be very different for a very long time. Even if a cure is produced by year-end it will take a long time to inoculate everyone everywhere. The damage done to the airlines has been extreme. When one of the smartest investors who has ever lived chose to DUMP his 10% ownership in Delta (and other airlines) at a massive loss, it should tell us just how bad and how long the loss will be.

[disclaimer – I never buy or sell $DAL Delta stock – I am not that stupid]

Thus Delta will want ANYONE back they can get. Anyone who can earn them any money at all and that includes us “gamers.”

How can this help us? I expect the deals that will come out to be simply stunning. Those of us who can take advantage of them will feel like we are back in the glory days of points earning and burning once again.

Delta, for a while to come, has just way too much of everything. Too many jets, too many seats, too many Sky Clubs and on and on. The only thing they don’t have too much of is cash. We know they have a decade long partnership with Amex who is providing them with the one thing they need the most: cash.

Delta SkyMiles American Express Reserve and Platinum cards

Amex is always fearful of folks dumping their cards. If someone does — and with the 1x lifetime new card bonus in place — it will be hard for Amex to ever get them back again. Better not to lose them in the first place.

But how?

“Back in the day” i.e. years ago when jets were not packed we saw all kinds of offers to motivate behavior. We saw transfer bonuses when you sent Membership Rewards points to Delta (not just SkyMiles but – gulp – even MQMs). I would not be shocked to see something like this return. We clearly will see a lot more promotions from Delta if we fly whatever routes they are wanting to juice the load levels on.

What other changes or promotions? For example will Delta, at last, dropping the bat crazy ¼ million Delta Diamond Amex MQD spend waiver? I think that depends on how many start canceling Delta Amex cards.

If there is a flood of dumps and folks tell Amex the spend waiver is the reason for the cancel – then yes. Just as likely would be a change to bring back the bonus Skymiles for the new Amex MQM spend levels (everything old is new again kinda thing).

As a points enthusiast, I am greatly looking forward to the next few years. Gone will be the arrogant WFBF (want first buy first) crowd and maybe Delta will return to what we see in the above video.

Once again, if Delta wants my money, they need to care about me and incentivize me and to #KeepClimbing vs. the years and years of #KeepDescending choices! – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

5 Comments

  1. I agree. Delta and all airlines will be begging for passengers as they struggle to overcome losses from the pandemic. And Delta shouldn’t complain about people flying AeroMexico. AeroMexico is practically a Delta subsidiary, with a Delta rep on the board and 49% ownership.

    Delta may also be begging for passengers due to moves by Alaska Airlines. It will be interesting to see how Delta is affected by Alaska Airlines joining Oneworld next year and revitalizing its partnership with American Airlines. Alaska is an airline that holds its own against Delta in operations and customer service. Alaska has great earn and burn partners but Oneworld membership can only enhance the value its mileage based ff program provides to customers. You can’t use Delta miles for international first class (only domestically within China) or use partner first class lounges. Let’s hope Alaska has the good sense not to eliminate the competitive advantage its ff program provides. Alaska held its own in the Battle of Seattle. Passengers in the Northwest and on the West Coast will have even greater incentive to fly Alaska after it joins Oneworld.

    Alaska poked bully Delta in the eye big time with those moves. Delta overpaid for the LATAM JV. The pandemic will turn that bad deal into a terrible one as Latin America and South America have yet to feel the full effects of coronavirus.

  2. Great article! I’m already looking into aeromexico mileage runs for 2021. I’d like to achieve Diamond status again but i know travel will not be the same. I just love having a mini vacay and racking up miles for retirement.

  3. HuntingtonGuy Reply

    Good article, thank you. I agree that if Delta wants us/me to remain a loyal customer AND Medallion, they will have to earn it. DL will certainly not be the only carrier vying for our cash and AIS so I agree the values will be out there for the taking.
    Innovation always comes out of adversity and I suspect airlines will be creative in identifying ways to keep pax and crew safe from one another while we are locked inside a metal tube together. I hope that will avoid turning domestic first class into C+, just closer to the front door. If meals and amenities (very few remain as it is) are further reduced or eliminated, that will affect my decision on which carrier to show my love.

    Stay safe everyone !

  4. I thought that Delta got paid by AmEx when we earned miles by charging purchases, and that AmEx was essentially buying the miles right then in order to give them to cardholders. But the excerpt (>>below<>>Delta is happy when we spend them as they realize income and profit. They are happy when we book SkyMiles award tickets or use PWM (Pay With Miles) just so long as we use them.<<<<

  5. Maybe they will go back to giving miles based on distance flown rather than amount paid. I remember in the 80s airlines were offering triple miles. They also were giving business class international tix for 90K. That was three LAX-JFK flights under those circumstances. Now you cant find a biz class transoceanic ticket for less than 200K miles, Those three transcons if $500 each get you less than 20K miles even if diamond. I hope airlines will go back to showing us a bit more love.

Write A Comment

BoardingArea